Mate Choice in Spiders
This activity guides the analysis of a published scientific figure from a study that investigated how males in a species of sexually cannibalistic spiders choose their mates.
Females of the web-building spider Cyrtophora citricola usually eat the males during or immediately after mating, a practice known as sexual cannibalism. In this study, scientists examined the behavior of the males to determine if sexual cannibalism makes them choosier about their mates. The figure shows the percentage of male spiders that remained in an empty, female-built web for four days after being placed there by researchers (dark bars) and the percentage of male spiders that left the web (light bars). The webs were built by females that differed by reproductive status: subadult, virgin adult, or mated adult.
The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Describe why mate choice may have evolved as a strategy for increasing reproductive success.
bar graph, cannibalism, female reproductive status, reproductive success, sexual selection
Yip, Eric C., Na'ama Berner-Aharon, Deborah R. Smith, and Yael Lubin. "Coy Males and Seductive Females in the Sexually Cannibalistic Colonial Spider, Cyrtophora citricola." PLoS ONE 11, 6 (2016): e0155433. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0155433.
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HS-LS4-2, HS-LS4-4; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
1.A.1; SP1, SP2, SP5
Math.S-ID.6, Math.S-IC.4; MP2, MP5
CC1; DP2, DP3